Behind every relationship is a story. The better we know the story of the people in our life, the deeper our relationship will be with them. Today’s episode is about a woman’s search for her own story. The story surrounding her adoption.
Everyone has a story, I mean everyone. In an earlier broadcast I mentioned that when I was a creative writing teacher back in the last century, I would take my students to the airport to write stories about the passengers they saw in the terminal.
We would all go to the gate area and just observe the passengers getting ready to depart, and those just arriving. I told my students to use their imaginations to write stories that might be behind those nameless faces.
You could do this kind of thing back then. It was so long ago before 9/1l and the TSA. In fact the number 11 had not been invented yet, though we did have 9. And we had gotten up to S in the alphabet, but T was a few years off.
The point of that exercise is that everyone has a story, and the better we are at observing people, and getting to know them, the richer and more satisfying those stories become. And the richer our lives become when we enter into the stories of others.
Today’s episode is an engaging story that has enriched my life, and I trust it will do the same for you. I interview Gail Rohde, a friend of Janet and mine, who shares or her story of how being adopted played an important role in shaping her life and making her the woman she is today. It is an interesting story of the relationships we were all made for.
So listen in.
We’ll pick up the rest of Gail’s story next week when she shares what happened next after she received she received the email from 23and Me identifying her birth mother.
There are a number of things I learned in this first part of Gail’s story that I found encouraging. One is the great relationship Gail had with her adoptive parents growing up. Early on they were open with Gail that she was adopted, and even gave her a book about it at a very young age that she still has. Her adoptive parents wanted her to know who she was, who wanted her to be clear on her identity, even at very young age.
I love that Gail still has the book her parents gave her. It’s a marker to remind her of where she came from, a positive reminder of her identity that’s different from most other people, and that’s perfectly fine. Different is good.
It’s encouraging to me to see the wisdom her parents had in talking about her origins. When there are no secrets, shame has no fertile soil in which to grow. I’m impressed with how so self-assured THEY were in THEIR identity, that her adoptive parents were not threatened by a child who would wonder about hers.
Gail mentioned her friend from high school who didn’t find out she was adopted until she was admitted to the hospital for anorexia. What a shock that was to her, and how she reached out to Gail because Gail’s adoption was out in the open, with nothing to hide. It reminded me of the shock I experienced when I was 10-years-old, and how out of the blue my mother told me I was adopted. No one likes surprises like this. Gail’s parents gave her the great gift of no surprises.
More than this, they helped her early on to try and locate her birth mother because they knew this was a missing piece to their daughter’s identity. They were confident in their relationship with Gail, that they didn’t fear that if she found her birth mother her affection and attachment to them would shift to her.
Other adoptive parents sometimes fear they will lose something dear to them if their child develops a relationship with the birth parents. Not so with Gail’s parents. They were all in for meeting her needs, and less concerned for their own. What a great lesson for all of us who are parents.
And yet Gail’s parents were not perfect, as she describes them. “I can count on one hand the times my mother told me she loved me.” She longed for affection from her mom, but found it instead from her father. “We were very close,” she said. And what a wise man he was. While in hospice he told Gail he himself rarely heard “I love you” from his wife. He helped Gail to realize this lack in her life was not about her, it was about her mom’s personality and the place of pain SHE came from. This truth brought relief to Gail in her dad’s last days. I hope in my last days I can bless someone like he did.
Gail talks a bit more about her adoptive mother in next week’s episode, and the gift she received from her just recently in the memory care facility where she lives. Stay tuned for that.
And though Gail says “I grew up in a great home,” there was still a longing there. Imagine walking in a shopping mall looking at women about the age of her mother at the time, and wondering, “Could that be her? Could that be my mother who gave me up for adoption? Could that be her?” I don’t know about you, but that sure touches my heart.
Yet in her 20’s, Gail chose not to look for her birth mother. You may recall when her dad got too sick to work he offered to be more intentional about helping Gail locate her. Gail said “No.” She was concerned that if she found her mother, the woman would reject her for a second time. “I didn’t want a door slammed in my face. That would be too painful.”
I can picture and feel this ambivalence Gail went through. On the one hand, wanting to know where you’ve come from, and on the other being afraid of what you might find. After all, what kind of person gives away her daughter?
It wasn’t until Gail started having children of her own that she was able to push through her ambivalence did her interest in locating her birth mother rise. It arose out of concerns for the medical history that could affect her offspring. We’ll get into more of that next week.
Before I close, here’s the he main take-away from today’s episode, our show in a sentence
Knowing the story of who we are and where we’ve come from is vitally important in living the life God want us to live today.
Here’s a way you can act in response to today’s show
You may not know anyone who’s adopted, but you may know someone who is affected by their painful past. Ask God for wisdom to do what Gail’s adoptive parents did, namely help someone find resolution to their past. That someone may even be you.
Coming up next week
In part 2 of my interview with Gail Rohde, she will talk about what she did after getting that email identifying her birth mother. We’ll learn the feelings she went through, the action she took, what she learned though all this. And where she saw God involved in all of it.
I was inspired by what Gail shared, and I’m pretty sure you will be too.
Our Relationship Quote of the Week
How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don't know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?
– David McCullough
Well that’s about it for today’s episode. If you know adoptive parents or an adult adoptee, please share this episode with them. I’d also appreciate you subscribing to the podcast, if you haven’t already done so, as well as leaving a review in whatever podcast player you use. Doing both of these things will help this podcast serve more people.
And above all, remember what you were made for. You were made to experience life-giving, fulling relationships. We’re here together to learn how. See you next week. Bye for now.